Posted on January 1st, 2012

Nimal Fernando

More than a little time has been devoted to the year that was about who is going to own the twenty-first century.

If these myriad discussions, policy sessions, group huddles or walk-in-the-palk chit-chats were based solely on old-fashioned competition on a level playing field, it would fit snugly in with someone’s utopian dream of a perfect world. Alas, if utopia is for, well, dreamers; perfect worlds are for galactic searchers of the masochistic kind.
So let’s cut to the chase here and agree that in the (real) geopolitical world, whenworld leaders (those who actually are in that exalted position) and others — such as sundry Congress(wo)men, governors, politicians — who wish to be world leaders; and other global movers and shakers talk about owning this, as yet very young, century, they are in fact saying that the nation they represent should be numero uno wealthwise, armswise, healthwise, influencewise…may everywise.
Being number one in whatever means that someone else is number two,three, 14 or somewhere far in the distance, fighting the next fellow to become number 149!
When well-meaning leaders such as President Barack Obama extolshis fellow Americans to get fired up on all fronts to own this century, admitting upfront that a tiring American marathoner is nervously looking over the shoulder at a Chinese who is fast closing the gap, he is hoping to inspire a nation to regain its former stature.

Yet, a good part of the parallel narrative has alarmed more than a few independents, and even pragmatic party faithfuls from both sides of
the divide. There, for instance, is this incessant Tea Party song and dance about taking back the country, presumably from the Democrats and their support base.

Some non-partisan commentators are reading more into this call than the basic libertarian belief in less government, individual freedom and personal responsibility. They’re reading into it an ultra-right,ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  evangelical, anti-union, white-supremacist stance.

Then there are the old, established pressure groups, mostly on the Democratic side, who are pushing for more federal sway over a
clutch of mainstream programmes in a steady-as-you-go nanny state.

Trying to be heard above the din are a few moderate, long-term optimistswho are asking whatever happened to those other American valuessuch as win-win solutions and bipartisanship.

To normally supportive America-watchers and outsiders looking in (such as relative new immigrants like this writer) getting their heads
around the current decay in a great democracy is proving to be difficult.

Given that one of the guiding principles of healthy capitalism is competition, let’s agree that it is a process that leads to better, safer products andservices and a higher standard of living…

However, when most of the winning cards are held right now by cronyƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  capitalists, financial Houdinis, band-aid politicians, arrogant status quo defenders and media spin doctors, worrisome is a mighty inadequate word to describe the situation.

Bluntly put, from today’s perspective, America’s young have, at best, a fuzzy future while its elderly will soon be yearning for the recent past. And what boggles the mind is that, in the face of a potentially crippling deficit, sluggish growth and corporate power over Capitol Hill, the most urgent item on the Republican agenda is running the nations first black president out of the White House!

All the presidential hopefuls seeking the Republican nomination, without exception, have invoked the GOP’s patron saint, Ronald Reagan.
President Reagan, especially during his second term, was fond of reminding his fellow Americans that this nation on a hill willƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  never know decline…

Will independent thinkers be out of place in wondering if many, if not all his fellow Republicans are spending sleepless nights
trying to prove him wrong?

If bipartisanship is in very short supply among Republicans, it looks like a horizontal mass movement, given form and shape by the ‘Occupiers’, might well force it on them. To be fair, this All-American movement, representing an overwhelming 99 percent ofƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  ‘We the People’, will haveƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  the same no-nonsense message for the Democrats.

To be sure, bucking such numbers will be tantamount to political suicide.

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